Monday, January 14, 2013

Explanatory Writing Freebie!

Oh my goodness. Was it just me, or did the last week of school last about 500 years? By Friday, I was feeling tired- but we had an awesome afternoon that helped perk me up for the weekend.

Last week we started our unit on Explanatory Writing. Here’s how the week went:
  • Monday: Watch BrainPop Jr. and make an anchor chart about explanatory writing.
  • Tuesday: Together, write an explanatory writing piece on chart paper. Brainstorm out loud with partners.
  • Wednesday: Review the elements of explanatory writing. Mime out making a sandwich. Write the first draft.
  • Thursday: Finish first drafts and edit/ revise for at least 15 minutes.
  • Friday: Publish onto special writing paper, adding illustrations in the time left.
  • Friday afternoon: Their “alien” teacher, who has never seen a sandwich before, tries to make the sandwiches using only their instructions. (A few years ago, I wore an alien hat from the dollar store to make this even more entertaining.)
Photos (taken by kids, so sorry if some are blurry!):

One student never told me to use a knife to spread the jelly, and another just told me to spread the peanut butter and jelly “on the bread” without having me get out pieces.

Their favorite! One set of instructions never told me where to spread the peanut butter and jelly, so I put them on my face.

Here’s one that told me to “put the peanut butter on one piece and the jelly on the other. Enjoy!”

At the end, I showed them how an alien enjoys their sandwich.

Seriously, it was so much fun.


They also learned some valuable lessons about how to be very, very specific when writing directions.

In past years, I’ve also done this as “How to Brush Your Teeth” when I had a peanut allergy in the classroom. I promise, it’s still funny when you put the toothpaste on the wrong part of the toothbrush, or they don’t tell you to take the cap off of the toothpaste, or when you put the whole tube on top of the toothbrush and then try to fit it in your mouth.

Next week, my students will get to write an explanatory piece of their choice, giving directions for how to do something. I’m excited to see how they improve!

If you’d like to download a copy of our explanatory writing paper, and my rubric for grading their writing, click the picture below and please say {thanks!}

P.S... While you're picking up the freebie, maybe follow my TpT store?

(Because I started one, finally, and I'm really self-conscious :)

I plan on moving most of my freebies over there so I can see how many people download them, and at some point I'll probably try to make a unit or two to sell. But that's not going to happen until these grade cards are done!

(Tips, tricks, advice totally welcome!)

Linking up with Manic Monday at Classroom Freebies!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


  1. I do this EVERY year...just like you! LOVE it! I too am working on a unit! So much fun!

    Tonya’s Treats for Teachers

  2. I'm secretly really looking forward to teaching my kiddos about how-to books so I can do something silly like that! SO fun!
    Teaching in the Valley

  3. Love your PB & J writing!! Found your blog on Classroom Freebies!


    2nd Grade Pig Pen

  4. Hahaha!! This is one of my favorite writing lessons! :) I had a teacher do this to my class when I was in 7th grade - I have done it a bunch of times with my own class, too. Always a big hit! I absolutely love your pictures, too! I bet your kiddos had such a fun time!!

    Second Grade Sparkle

  5. I do this writing, too. I love your pictures, too funny :)
    You seem like such a wonderful teacher and your kiddos must love you! Thanks for the freebie and I will follow your TpT store! Stop by and visit my blog of randomness if you want sometime!

  6. WOW , this is such an amazing activity. I will definetly be picking it up and hopefully showing them the importance of using specific words for directions. You are so creative, I love it!

    Oh, thanks for the comment! It made my made today after so much chaos this day has brought. Hope you have a good one!
    Happy teaching,

  7. OMG I Love this idea! Great pictures too :) I can't wait to try this out with my second graders! Yay for new ideas!

    Primary Teacherhood

  8. I laughed out loud while reading this.... it's one of our favorite activities too! I bet the kids were roaring!!!
    Karen :o)
    Mrs. Stamp's Kindergarten

  9. What a fun idea! I'll have to try that!

  10. HAHAHA! That is hilarious. I love your pictures. I bet your kids were cracking up and it's definitely something they'll remember for-e-ver.

    Buzzing with Ms. B


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